Date: January 21, 2005 "For Immediate Release"
To: News Media
From: Sheriff Grady Judd
Media Contact:

Carrie Rodgers, (863) 534-6217 OR (863) 981-2374 Pager

PCSO Bids Farewell to Retired Canine "Rex"

The Polk County Sheriff's Office said goodbye to a faithful partner, friend, and companion - canine Rex, a 5-year veteran of the agency's K-9 Unit - when he was euthanized due to failing health on January 15, 2005.

Rex, a Belgian Malinois breed of dog, was purchased in 1994 from Holland when he was 2 years old. Rex began working with handler Deputy Sheriff J.D. Maney at that time, and then transferred to handler/owner Deputy Sheriff Tim Ellis in 1996, with whom he has lived until his recent death.

D/S Ellis and Rex were nationally certified in both narcotics detection and apprehension. They also competed in and won 2nd place nationally in the U.S. Police Canine Association K-9 Field Trials in 1996.

In March 1999, Rex was injured in the line of duty when he and D/S Ellis were trying to establish whether a barricaded suspect was in a house in Poinciana. The Emergency Response Team (ERT) had responded to the location in reference to a dangerous individual who had barricaded himself. After Rex, using scent discrimination, determined the suspect was still inside, the ERT deployed tear gas chemicals to try to flush the suspect out. Thirty minutes later, Rex returned to the house to again locate the suspect. Due to his inhalation of the chemicals, he became permanently disabled and had brain lesions and seizures, forcing him to retire from his duties.

Rex's injuries spurred his handler's wife, Deputy Sheriff Joy Ellis, to seek an award designated for canines injured in the line of duty, similar to the Law Enforcement Purple Heart. Her efforts resulted in the creation of the Medal of Courage, which was awarded to Rex, the first recipient, at the PCSO Annual Awards Ceremony in 2002.

Among Rex's accolades: he helped apprehend an attempted murder suspect, protecting his handler and the community from harm; assisted in 971 backups for fellow deputies; made 71 building searches, 45 area searches, and 94 narcotics searches; made 34 narcotics finds, including one seizure of 5 kilos of cocaine; participated in 30 demonstrations; and made 156 arrests. 

Rex put his life on the line every day that he worked for the Polk County Sheriff's Office, and in return received injuries that proved fatal. He will always be remembered as a hero who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Distribution: Chief of Staff, Division Commanders, Communications, News Media

A text only version of this release is also available.

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